Planetside 2 is an MMO and an FPS. Realizing the potential of a large world, Sony has created a massive map that three factions struggle for dominance over (choosing a faction generally changes nothing outside the aesthetics). This world is broken up into grid coordinates which a player can view. The capture of a specific area on the map guarantees players that their color holds dominance in that region and can use that area as a spawn point. The main goal for each faction is to control the planet.
The gameplay, from what has been observed in the beta, is not dissimilar to Battlefield. Players select a class, spawn at a specific location, and march to seize objectives. The primary difference between this game and a title like Battlefield is the fact that Planetside 2 uses futuristic equipment. Players will also find that a fight for a specific point on the map can changes from a 12-man skirmish, to a 300 unit onslaught. At this point, vehicles begin to decide victory.
Vehicles are very heavily emphasized in Planetside 2. While it's true players can avoid using them as forms of weaponry, avoiding them as sources of transportation is futile. Planetside 2's in game map is simply massive. Consequently, there are vehicles that range anywhere from nimble ATVs for lone snipers, to massive air-carriers that are perfect for pinning enemy positions from the skies. To reiterate, vehicles play a huge factor in this title. Cute little soldiers with assault rifles do very little outside the occasional close-quarter gun fight.
Classes play a vital role in the game, and each class sits unique in comparison to the others. Snipers are great at sitting on mountains while picking off pesky ground troops (that is, if their arch-nemesis, draw distance, doesn't hide them in the fog of war), and heavy assault troopers make great anti-vehicle support for a lone team that finds themselves pinned behind a rock. It's a well thought out balance that allows players to feel like their actions are making a difference.
Combat in this game runs a bit differently from most shooters in the fact that running around firing a sub-machine gun will do little more than make you look like an idiot. Almost all combat will be performed either in a vehicle, behind cover at range, or in squads that assault a base. A lone wolf will be punished mercilessly as it's not uncommon to see 200 players fighting for control over 300 square meters of terrain. Bridges often become lethal choke points for vehicles, and any advances are made at high costs. Most interesting about this title though, is how it's marketed.
The selling point in Planetside 2 is the simple fact that there exists no game like it on the market. It's a free to play MMO that has the production value of a full-priced title. While there will be in-game purchases, it is yet to be known if this game will sell power, or if this title will work similarly to DotA 2 and League Of Legends where everything you buy can be obtained through hard work in the game.
While the release of this date is scheduled for the end of the year, players can still sign up for the beta for free, or guarantee access through purchase. Of course, whether a player wants to pay $40 to join “Alpha-Squad” is entirely up to them. However, I highly recommend players simply try to get in the beta. It's a fun game, but I can see people who are into “one man army” games or that need to see action every time they turn the corner being turned off by a title like this.